Not everyone is enthusiastic: the end of the ghost games in football

Not everyone is enthusiastic
The end of the ghost games in football

The time of the ghost games in German professional football ends on Friday. The start of the second division between Bundesliga veterans Schalke 04 and Hamburger SV can again be followed in the stadium. Not everyone is enthusiastic about it.

Having a beer with friends in the stadium, eating a sausage and cheering on the favorite team: the fans had to do without it almost completely for almost a year and a half. The last sold-out stadiums were in March 2020, after which the corona pandemic also overwhelmed football Germany. For the opening game of the 2nd Bundesliga next Friday between Schalke 04 and Hamburger SV (8.30 p.m. / including in the live ticker on All 62,271 seats in the Veltins-Arena may not yet be occupied, but with up to 25,000 spectators allowed, a bit of normality is returning for the first time.

For Schalke striker Simon Terodde, the return of fans is “something special”. “That’s a big difference. That was a huge disadvantage for traditional clubs. But now everyone feels like playing in front of fans,” said the 33-year-old center forward in an interview with Sky. The long time of the ghost games in Germany’s second highest football league officially ends this weekend. In the beginning, the stadium has a maximum capacity of 50 percent, with the number of spectators capped at 25,000, but something like a stadium atmosphere has long been possible.

The return also raises questions

The time of the quiet arenas, in which the TV viewers understood every little word the trainer said, is over for the time being. “I am particularly pleased that we can then welcome spectators again,” said Schalke coach Dimitrios Grammozis in an interview with the Sportschau with a view to the game against HSV. There is joy in the clubs and the fans alike. But the currently increasing numbers of new corona infections, especially due to the delta variant, are dampening the great euphoria. The European Championship also raises a number of questions in this regard.

With the fans, the protests will also return to the stadiums.

(Photo: picture alliance / Kirchner-Media)

Nevertheless, it is especially important for the clubs that depend on the audience revenues. You can now breathe a sigh of relief when you return and expect money that was common before the Corona era. But visiting the stadium is currently not as easy as it used to be. Because the 3-G rule also applies here: vaccinated, recovered or tested. In addition, only personalized tickets may be issued, and a mask is required up to the seat.

Guest fans only allowed later

Visiting fans are only allowed again nationwide from the third match day. From then on, the visiting team will initially receive five percent of the tickets. But then the increased travel within Germany begins again. This, too, is sometimes viewed critically by experts. However, this does not yet apply to the clubs’ first home game. The clubs should first be able to collect “experience when fans return to the stadiums”, according to a statement from the German Football League (DFL). There are still exceptions. SV Darmstadt 98 announced that it would make five percent of the tickets available to guests for the first home game. Of the total capacity, 484 places (250 seats and 234 standing places) are allocated to the quota for guest fans.

The new regulation for the return of the audience with up to 50 percent utilization with a maximum of 25,000 viewers, however, see parts of the population critically. According to a YouGov survey, only 24 percent think this is correct. More than half of Germans are of the opinion that the rules in the Bundesliga go too far. In a poll by the polling institute, 36 percent said that fewer viewers should be allowed in view of the coronavirus pandemic. 19 percent are even of the opinion that the stadiums should remain completely empty in the new season. Only twelve percent of German citizens think that the football stadiums should be better filled in the new season. Six percent even want arenas filled to the last seat. In the end, everything will also depend on the incidence. A return of the audience is currently linked to this. At an incidence of 35 or more, the games would again take place in camera. Not all representatives of professional football are satisfied with it.